Here’s a hot-button topic to debate:
Jeremy Shockey had another good game for Carolina with a touchdown and a key 26-yard catch late in the 28-13 road win over Houston, but he was more interested in talking postgame about what he perceived as a lack of national anthem etiquette on the Texans’ part. And then my friend John McClain of the Houston Chronicle got a reaction Sunday night from Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans about Shockey’s original comments in which Ryans fires back at Shockey.
First, Shockey’s comments: “Myself, I was pretty upset they weren’t showing respect to America during the national anthem,” Shockey said, unprompted, about the Texans when he began talking to reporters in the locker room after the game. “There were about 10 players who didn’t put their arms across their chests….. This is America. They should at least give respect to America…. Maybe they just forgot to do it or something. I don’t see how you can forget something like that.”
Shockey’s comments came fairly late in the open locker room period. He repeated them almost verbatim twice. The second time they were prompted. I asked him about the issue again to make sure I had heard him correctly.
McClain got a reaction for the Houston Chronicle from Ryans about Shockey’s comments. Said Ryans: “If he’s so patriotic, why was he looking at our bench instead of the flag? Where did he come up with the number 10? Was he counting? Why was he paying attention to us during the national anthem? Of course our players are patriotic. We respect the flag and America and our soldiers that are fighting for our freedom.”
I’ve had many readers already send me the official code for national anthem etiquette, which indeed does include holding your hand over your heart (if you’re a civilian).
I have seen hundreds of athletes, fans and media members not follow this code, though, including Panthers on the current team, fans in Bank of America Stadium and myself. I stand silently at attention, look at the flag and sometimes sing along, but usually I have my hands behind my back. Perhaps I should reconsider this posture – a number of readers certainly think that I should.
Those with a long Panther memories may recall that Panther running backs Fred Lane and Tshimanga Biakabutuka were correctly criticized in 1998 when they sat down and talked with each other during one national anthem at home. A number of fans noticed. The players apologized and always stood after that.
Shockey, incidentally, twice mispronounced Ryans' name in that same interview. He was asked about the play in which he scored a touchdown and said it was a "simple play" in which he had beaten Ryans. Ryans later made a huge hit on Shockey, jarring a pass loose.